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September 27, 2017

Peace, Love and Sailing

There are many reasons to sail. Peace and love are good ones.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Hey man, is this groovy or what? Sailors will have a new and unique art form to enjoy on San Francisco Bay when the Antenna Theater in Sausalito launches ‘The Love Plane Experience’ this Sunday over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sunny, warm, clear skies should be perfect for experiencing the Love Plane.

© Antenna Theater

Pull out those old bell bottoms (started by Navy sailors) and some tie-dye, crank up the Doors, Janis Joplin or Jimmy Hendrix, and join sailors celebrating the culmination of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

What’s going to happen? You never really know when you plan a event in the sky over San Francisco Bay, but, if things go according to plan, the Love Plane will draw a giant heart over the Golden Gate Bridge and all hippies and wannabes will sail with hearts and flowers all over the Bay. If things don’t go according to plan you’ll just enjoy a chance to chill out on a nice Sunday afternoon sail.  

To be part, take your flower-power VW bus to the marina and sail out Sunday, October 1, 2-5 p.m, near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Icom Mic Check

Icom makes fine radios.

On Profligate, we have an Icom VHF radio. Nice piece of equipment.

We also have an Icom 802 SSB radio, which experts say is the best least-expensive SSB radio for small to medium-sized sailboats. So far it’s worked just fine.

But as others have found, it would only be a matter of time before the Icom was no longer a good SSB because the microphone wouldn’t work.

For some reason, there are flex points near both ends of the 802 microphone and plug where the protective wiring wears through, meaning it’s only a matter of time before it fails. This is unlike the wiring on the Icom VHF, which has taken plenty of abuse.

Perhaps Icom has fixed this problem on newer radios. But it was a problem on many Icom 802s in the past. So if you’re one of the many owners of an Icom 802 who are about to head off for Mexico and the South Pacific, you may want to check out your microphone. We did and replaced ours. Alas, the new one looks just like the crappy old one.

Renewing License Failure

Every 10 years you are required to get your boat radio license renewed. It’s not cheap, as it’s $220 — although it is good for 10 years.

Because the Wanderer moves around a lot, the mail from the FCC about the impending renewal didn’t catch up to him until the deadline had passed. No big deal, except the FCC says that if we want to renew and keep our old call sign, it will cost $440, not just $220, because it includes a $220 fine for being late.

If, on the other hand, we simply signed up for a new radio license, and thus got a new call sign, it would only be $220. Does that seem backward or what? It seems as though it should cost more to get a new license.

Making it even stranger, even if we get a new call sign, the woman at the FCC says she thinks we can keep our MMSI number.

A lot of people get emotionally attached to their call signs. The Wanderer isn’t one of those. But if you are, make sure you renew your license in time.

October Racing Preview

Before we even get to October, the Etchells Worlds will wrap up September for us. The 51-boat fleet, packed with international sailors of the highest caliber, is being hosted by San Francisco Yacht Club on the Berkeley Circle, with racing through Saturday. See our preview on Monday’s ‘Lectronic.

Starting on Friday and wrapping up on Sunday, October 1, are the Express 37 Nationals, hosted by Berkeley YC, and the Pac52 Championship, hosted by St. Francis YC, which will complete the new class’s 2017 season.

The YRA’s last hurrah of the 2017 season is this weekend. Corinthian YC will host the Season Closer. Saturday’s race will head out the Gate to Point Bonita; Sunday’s race will stay in the Bay. More boats are expected this year than last. "It looks like we’ll have both an Express 27 division and a Sport Boat division, in addition to our PHRF fleets and our Non-Spinnaker division," writes the YRA. "Latitude 38 is sponsoring a keg of beer at CYC after the Saturday race." Entries close today, Wednesday, September 27, at 5 p.m.

No, Ron Kell’s Abigail Morgan isn’t sinking. The Express 27 is simply in a wave trough, returning from Point Bonita in a recent YRA Season Closer.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Richmond YC’s Sportboat Regatta on October 7-8 will begin a day early for Express 27s, as they’ll be sailing for their National Championship. El Toros will Stampede at RYC on Sunday, October 8. The Stampede is the last race of the 2017 Junior Season Championship. Seniors have one more event, the Corkscrew in Redwood City on October 14, hosted by Sequoia YC.

Junior and Senior El Toro racers attempt to sail in the RYC turning basin without their daggerboards in one of the Stampede’s hilarious competitions.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Oktoberfest will be celebrated with races on October 14 at both Berkeley and Oakland YCs. Sausalito YC’s Twin Island Series will wrap up on the same day.

The Storer family is sponsoring the Joan Storer Regatta on October 14. Half of the entry fee will be donated to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and Hospice of Marin. The regatta is open to all, but skipper and crew must be made up of at least 50% females. Joan’s son John will host refreshments at the Tiburon YC clubhouse after racing.

The following Saturday, the 21st, the Women’s Circuit will head to South Beach YC for the Red Bra Regatta for all-female skippers and crew, with "subservient all-male race committee, BBQ staff and clean-up committee."

The Singlehanded Sailing Society will wrap up their 2017 season with the Vallejo 1-2 on October 21-22. Racers will sail solo from the Berkeley Circle to Vallejo YC on Saturday, then return to RYC on Sunday with one crew. On the same weekend, StFYC will host the Fall Dinghy Regatta. 

Returning to Richmond from Vallejo in last year’s Vallejo 2.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

SFYC will host the Leukemia Cup on October 21-22, with the Perkins Cup Challenge and Regatta Gala on Saturday and racing for all on Sunday.

Halloween-themed regattas include TYC’s Red Rock Regatta on Saturday the 28th and RYC’s Great Pumpkin, a weekend-long event packed with activities on and off the water. We’re anticipating the usual Friday-night pumpkin carving contest, a marine-gear yard sale, three buoy races, a Saturday night Halloween costume party, and a pursuit race on Sunday. The theme for 2017 is ‘Summer of Love Sailing’. Also on October 28, StFYC will welcome wooden boats for the Jessica Cup.

As always, many more races pepper the calendar than we could possibly list here. Find one that suits your taste at

Latitude Movie Club: ‘Wind’

We’re not afraid to call the movie Wind a classiceven though it was not well received at the box office in 1992, and even though the film, like all art imitating life, took some liberties with the truth. (A masthead spinnaker on a 12-Meter?!) But as movies age, they tend to transcend whatever genre and box office construct they were conceived in, and can perhaps be seen in their rawer, truer form.

For years now, our readers have bemoaned the modern America’s Cup, and look wistfully at the 12-Meter era. To those AC purists, Wind will certainly be your cup of tea.
© 2017 Tri Star Pictures

One of the film’s writers was Kimball Livingston, a sailing journalist, former commodore of St. Francis Yacht Club and one of the sport’s most dedicated enthusiasts. On his website Blue Planet Times, Livingston wrote a retrospective of the movie, saying: “Wind never took off at the box office. Some people liked it, some didn’t, and lots of serious sailors walked out grousing that, yeah, maybe the sailing sequences got you going, but the story did not achieve the smell of authentic camel dung in high heat in the desert. Over time, that washed away, and Wind found a place as a cult film.”

Our own Max Ebb also weighed in: “In Wind, Lee Helm may well have been the inspiration for the female lead,” Max said. “Livingston is local and almost certainly a Latitude reader for many years before he contributed to the Wind screenplay.”

Wind is decidedly a ’90s movie, a quality that can only be described as something that you know when you see. It’s the pace: The shots are longer and grander, and the editing is slower. The movie takes its time, rather than the rapid-fire choppiness we’ve come to expect from the modern, Fast and Furious generation of filmmaking. And the movie is … quiet. There are long, beautiful moments without a word of dialogue.

Wind is set in a bygone era of sailing, in Newport, Rhode Island, with grand, regal estates, and huge, plush lawns. Its occupants wear blue blazers and ties, and you half expect Jay Gatsby to come strolling into the scene with a martini in hand. One detail that took a moment to notice was the absence of corporate sponsors plastered over sails, compounds and clothes.

© 2017 TriStar Pictures

One of our favorite scenes has our two heroes — played by Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey — outside an airplane hangar in the desert as the breeze comes up at dusk. Grey closes her eyes and lets the wind wash over her, while the perpetually boyish Modine plays in the breeze, using his shirt as a sail to run downwind on his bike. To us, those quiet moments, far away from the ocean, represent the essence of sailing — simply, playing in the wind.

When we asked on our Facebook page: “What did the movie mean to you?” John Sangmeister replied, “Income.”

John Sangmeister posted this shot of a weathered script of Wind on our Facebook page.

© 2017 John Sangmeister

Sangmeister was starboard mainsheet trimmer on the 1987 and 1992 Stars & Stripes teams. He played Skye in Wind, one of the many nameless, dialogue-less ’90s beefcakes serving as crew. Sangmeister happened to be at a book store when he saw former NFL player Roy Forbes reading a ‘learn to sail’ manual. Striking up a conversation, Forbes told Sangmeister that he was being cast for a movie — about the America’s Cup, being made by Francis Ford Coppola — and that he should audition.

“I have no problems with the sailing ‘inconsistencies’,” Sangmeister said of Wind’s liberties with accuracy. “Like having streamers off the backstay of Geronimo [the protagonist’s boat in the third act of the movie]. We pooh-pooed it at the time, but I wish we made them look more bitchin’. It’s some of the finest sailing footage you’ve ever seen.”

Because cameras flatten the sea state, Sangmeister said that the final sailing scenes were shot in almost 35 knots of wind. “It was visually boring in anything less than 30 knots. We shot in both Fremantle and then Hawaii, because we ran out of wind in Australia — ‘the Doctor’ never showed up,” Sangmeister said, referring to the famed seabreeze in Western Australia.

The infamous ‘Whomper’. A product of genius conceived by Kate Bass (played by Jennifer Grey), the Whomper pulls our heroes from behind, bringing them neck and neck with the bad guys (sorry to any Australians out there). The real-life flying of the Whomper in nearly 40 knots of wind was harrowing, got a 12-Meter up to 20 knots, and nearly brought the mast down, according to people involved in the movie.

© 2017 TriStar Pictures

This brings us to one the most critical scenes in the final act of the movie.

“[Director] Carroll [Ballard] was firm that the Good Guys had to come from behind in the Big Moment to win the Big Race,” Livingston wrote on his website. “And he was firm that the critical scene had to turn on something visual that anybody in the audience could see and understand. So why not a super-sized masthead spinnaker on a fractional rig? . . . Why not the Whomper?”

Livingston said he had nothing to do with the Whomper. “I even hated it. But later, when Paul Cayard and his EF Language guys racing around the world started calling one of their sails ‘the Whomper’, and as the Whomper became the wrinkle of the movie that gained a life of its own, I found myself thinking, doggies, I wish that was mine.”

The majority of comments on our Facebook page centered around this now-infamous sail — Sangmeister enthusiastically called the Whomper “the greatest invention in sailing of all time. We got a 12-Meter to nearly 20 knots.”

At the helm, Matthew Modine as Jack Parker in Wind; Jennifer Grey as Kate Bass, on the leeward side.

© 2017 TriStar Pictures

Here’s what some of you said about the movie: “I watched it for the first time in sailing camp as a little kid,” wrote Ryan Nelson. “I became obsessed; the movie inspired me to get into the sailing industry. The sailing was believable but obviously not accurate. The cinematography was amazing! And it had a bunch of great lines that must be repeated when morale is low on a race boat.”

Yes, the cinematography — after re-watching the film (for the first time in about 15 years) and being stunned by the sheer beauty if it, we IMDBed the cinematographer, John Toll, who would go on to win Academy Awards for Legends of the Fall and Braveheart, his next two films after Wind. The point was echoed by Livingston and other people associated with the movie. Sangmeister believes Toll would have been nominated for an Oscar for Wind, had it fared better at the box office.

“I loved the movie because the sailing scenes ‘engaged’ me,” wrote Larry De La Briandais. “I was able to ignore anything that was not correct. I felt like they had good coverage of actual sailing.”

Jennie Crum said Wind was “hilarious from start to finish. I loved the way they changed the bits of reality so that the US team came up with all the good innovations. The best part was when they decided to have the next race with ‘no rules’! Poke that spinnaker with your pole!”

Ah yes, another suspension of belief. Just as our heroes have clawed their way from behind, they’re sabotaged. “There were three Whompers, all destroyed in one day to get different angles of the ‘a bit of spearfishing’ scene,” Sangmeister said.

A large chunk of Wind takes place in the desert in Utah, where our heroes are in deep contemplation of their futures, and of the intricacies of yacht racing designs. “We giggled,” Sangmeister said, “because we were reading the script, and thought, ‘Who the hell would do that?’ But literally the next day, Bill Koch decided to build his boat for the ’92 Cup in the desert in Utah.”

Sometimes, life imitates art.

There are plenty of boats headed south for cruising season, while others are out just enjoying idyllic, sunny fall breezes. Lone
The forecast for this week’s Etchells World Championship being hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club on the Berkeley Circle is hot.
While he’s always a gentleman, Fin can nonetheless swing an encouraging sledge hammer when required.